With all the water that has been falling, we're expecting beautiful wildflowers this spring, though the Sierra Nevada mountain range is forever changed. According to the US Forest Service, 102 million trees have died across the state since 2010, including 62 million dead trees in 2016 alone. Fires have devastated much of the state, and now the heavy rains are causing landslides and floods. The landscape will never be the same.
"If it ain't one thing, it's another..." That is so true, but what's getting me through the gray days is reading. LOTS of reading, and I can't even feel guilty about it because, one, my computer was out of commission for twelve days. (I went through a LOT more wine than usual...) I just got it back, and it appears to be fixed...and two, this is the time of year that published authors who are members of RWA (Romance Writers of America) are judging entries for this year's Rita Awards. This is like the Oscars for romance authors, and the glitzy ceremony is absolutely wonderful. I've never been a finalist, much less won, but I love the chance to judge. I've found so many new authors this way (Like I need to be following even more?) and it's an honor to be able to read so many terrific books.
I finished my first batch early and let the RWA office know I could read more. They always have some that get returned unread for whatever reason, and I try to take as many as I can. Very rarely do I get one I don't enjoy, so I'm hoping they arrive tonight...
I finally had the chance to read Jayne Ann Krentz's latest, and believe me, she's outdone herself on this one. The suspense is top notch and the characters are really terrific. I started WHEN ALL THE GIRLS HAVE GONE as soon as I finished my first batch of Rita entries, and I could NOT put it down. I can't believe how quickly JAK sucked me in. I swear she just keeps upping her game. I have no idea how many books she's written, but I've got a lot of them, and this one is, without a doubt, the best of the bunch. I definitely recommend it!
"Calling Cover Him with Darkness a romance is like calling a Lamborghini a cute little car. Janine Ashbless has broken every unwritten rule of writing romance and makes it work most spectacularly - it's dark and gritty and so beautifully written that the words are pure poetry." - Kate Douglas
That was not an exaggeration! Janine's new editor asked me to read the second one, and it's every bit as dark and beautiful as the first. I honestly wondered if she'd be able to maintain the same explosive pace with this "middle" book in the trilogy. So often they're the ones that lose steam, but not IN BONDS OF THE EARTH. This one is just as amazing as the first book.
When Milja Petak released the fallen angel Azazel from five thousand years of imprisonment, she did it out of love and pity. She found herself in a passionate sexual relationship beyond her imagining and control – the beloved plaything of a dark and furious demon who takes what he wants, when he wants, and submits to no restraint. But what she hasn’t bargained on is being drawn into his plan to free all his incarcerated brothers and wage a war against the Powers of Heaven.
As Azazel drags Milja across the globe in search of his fellow rebel angels, Milja fights to hold her own in a situation where every decision has dire consequences. Pursued by the loyal Archangels, she is forced to make alliances with those she cannot trust: the mysterious Roshana Veisi, who has designs of her own upon Azazel; and Egan Kansky, special forces agent of the Vatican – the man who once saved then betrayed her, who loves her, and who will do anything he can to imprison Azazel for all eternity.
Torn every way by love, by conflicting loyalties and by her own passions, Milja finds that she too is changing – and that she must do things she could not previously have dreamt of in order to save those who matter to her.
IN BONDS OF THE EARTH releases March 1.
And she knows exactly how to grab the reader and not let you go. AFTER I FALL, is book 3 in her FALLING series. The link on the cover will take you to Jess's website with information on all three of the books. The buttons below will take you to extended excerpts for either Kindle or ePub. (I think that's Nook, right?)
Her entire life has been a lie. Being with Eli is the most honest thing she’s ever done.
Parker Hauser lives the perfect life and knows exactly where she's been and where she's going. Parker has to be perfect. Perfect grades, perfect body, perfect life.
Until she meets Eli Winter.
Eli throws her entire life into chaos when he denies her the one thing she wants from him.
One chance encounter stokes her desire for the man who refused to touch her and left her questioning everything.
When Parker tries to help his new business, the spotlight turns on Eli's military record. And the war he's tried to forget may destroy them both.
AFTER I FALL releases March 21, but it's up for pre-sale now.
In the meantime, I think giving away a copy of WILD, the one with the second book, WILD PASSIONS, is a good way to reward you for reading through my entire rambling newsletter. At least I was able to do a newsletter! Going so long without my computer just about drove me nuts, and we don't even want to discuss the effect it had on my husband. I think he was ready to go chase down the Apple guy and throttle him when they kept if for repairs.
So, if you want a chance at a print copy of WILD for those living in the US or its protectorates (where postage is still the US rate, you know the drill...Do NOT enter in the comments section below--I will delete your information and probably won't notify you, because it takes too much time and I'm really busy trying to get books done. DO ENTER using the form that says, CONTEST ENTRY FORM. Make sure you fill in your complete address with the zip code. International entrants, you don't need to worry about the address as I'll have your email once you out the form. I'll figure out how to get an ebook to you as soon as I get the chance to find out the particulars!
Here's a scene that takes place early in the story--Gabe Cheval, Jace Wolf, and Jack Temple-Fuentes have gotten together for a cold beer at the end of the school year. Both Jace--now mated to Romy Sarika from Dark Spirit--and Jack are teachers at the elementary school at the Chanku compound in Montana.
Jace and Gabe will be leaving on the annual wolf survey in the morning, but Jack's plans are open-ended. At least until Jace and Gabe's mates show up...along with a young woman Jack has befriended, one of the women Gabe and Em helped rescue in Dark Refuge. Her name is Mary Ryder. She's nothing like anyone Jack has ever known before, they've been friends for six months, but have never been intimate. She was a sex slave for over a year, and he's terrified of screwing things up with a woman who has come to mean way too much to him.
How the hell did he do that? Sometimes Jack wondered if Gabe read minds the way his dad did. “Mary’s okay.” He shrugged, unwilling to say anything personal. “We’re friends. I like her.”
Jace snorted. “Friends? C’mon, Jack. You don’t do friends. You do bed buddies. Mary, though? I think she’s a little too good for you.”
Jack punched Jace’s shoulder. He wanted to hit him a hell of a lot harder. “You’re probably right. I’ll try really hard to remember that.” He laughed, but it wasn’t funny because he halfway agreed with Jace. Mary was too good for him, but for some reason they’d actually become friends. That was all—just friends but it was an unusual experience. He was so used to woman coming on to him, but Mary wasn’t like that. Considering what she’d been through, he’d avoided letting her know just how much he wanted her; instead, he’d sort of been waiting around for her to make the first move.
She hadn’t. Not even close, though she was comfortable spending time with him, and he thought there was some real chemistry. But Mary, obviously, wasn’t ready to act on it. Jack wanted more, but it was hard to know how to approach the subject. You didn’t just ask a woman if she wanted to have sex when she’d been kidnapped, held prisoner, and whored out by bastards who were absolute slime.
The sound of laughter had the three men lifting their heads and staring across the meadow. Jack glanced at Jace and they both cracked up when Jace sent the thought, woman alert his way. Em, Romy, and Mary walked toward the picnic tables where the guys had parked their butts. Jack took another swallow of his beer, watching Jace and Gabe’s reactions as their women drew closer. He might as well have disappeared off the planet, as focused as the two had suddenly become. Like predators stalking prey, except Romy and Em weren’t trying to get away. No, they were coming closer, as focused on their guys as Jace and Gabe were on them.
His life-changing revelation was just that simple: Jack wanted what his buddies had. Wanted that kind of look from a woman. Not any woman, though. Only one. Mary. He dumped the rest of his beer out on the ground, tossed the can in the recycle barrel and stood. Romy walked into Jace’s embrace, and Em wrapped her arms around Gabe. Jack took Mary’s hand.
“C’mon,” he said, playfully tugging her closer and spinning her around. “There are some things a nice girl like you should never see.” Standing behind Mary, he covered her eyes with both hands and she laughed.
When it appeared that neither Jace nor Gabe would be coming up for air anytime soon, Jack took Mary’s hand again and led her down the trail toward the woods. It was a beautiful night, a perfect night for getting naked with a beautiful woman. Mary was definitely that, with her most amazing blue eyes and her long dark brown hair waving over her shoulders. Unfortunately, he didn’t see getting naked together in their immediate future.
He would never push her. Not with her history. Most of the females, at least of his generation, born and raised within the pack, saw sex as one of the necessities of life—sort of like eating, sleeping, and breathing. Mary’s experience hadn’t been anything like that. Which was why it would be entirely up to Mary to make the first move. That was only if she was at all interested in moving...
There was an old fallen tree near the path and Jack lifted Mary up to sit on the massive trunk. He’d always liked this spot, right at the edge of the forest where you could look out at the houses scattered across the huge meadow and the little fairy lights that marked the pathways through the beautifully landscaped gardens. It was like living in a park, and when he sat beside Mary and took her hand, he realized it felt different tonight, sitting here and looking at the place that had always been his home.
Was it him? Was he finally getting older, feeling a bit jaded and yet, at the same time, lost? Where the hell had that come from? He almost laughed. Introspection really wasn’t his thing. He glanced at Mary. “You’re quiet tonight. Everything okay?”
She turned and studied him for the longest time. Long enough to make him uncomfortable. “Jack? Do you find me at all attractive?”
He almost choked. “You’re kidding, right?”
She pulled her hand away from his. “I’m sorry. I never should have...”
“Whoa. Mary.” He reached for her hand, held on, and all his best intentions disappeared.
Shaking his head, he tried to figure her out, but she wasn’t an easy read. “You’re absolutely gorgeous. The first time I saw you I couldn’t look away. I still can’t. Truth, Mary? I’ve had a case of blue balls since that very first day. Ever since we’ve gotten to be friends, I’ve become way too intimately acquainted with my right hand, if you get my drift.”
She covered her mouth and actually snorted, and then she blushed a fiery red. Jack grabbed both her hands and laughed with her. “Are you coming on to me, Mary Ryder?”
“I don’t know.” Cocking her head to one side, she stared at him out of those amazing blue eyes. He felt as if she saw right through him. “I’ve never come on to a guy before. What do I need to do, you know, to get it right?”
He hadn’t expected this at all, but he slipped off the log and stood, reached for Mary, and pulled her close. “This, for starters,” he said. And then he kissed her.
At first she froze in his arms. He kept it easy but intimate, continued his slow but thorough assault of her mouth and within moments she was kissing him back. When she tentatively slipped her tongue between his parted lips, Jack wanted to jump up and cheer, though that really wasn’t necessary. His dick was doing that all on its own.
When he took her hand and led her toward his cabin, Mary didn’t hesitate. Not a bit.
So, that's just a taste of the beginning. Hopefully it won't be TOO much longer!
All the best to you,